Filipina drug mule who carried HK$1.77m worth of cocaine to Hong Kong while pregnant jailed for 14 years
Judge said sentence was as ‘lenient as possible’ for woman who gave birth to baby boy while in custody
A Filipino woman, who carried more than 1.3kg of cocaine to Hong Kong while she was four months pregnant, was jailed for 14 years 8 months at the High Court this morning.
Vergara Catherine Bustillo, 30, pleaded guilty to one count of trafficking dangerous drugs, with an estimated street value of more than HK$1.77 million, from Manila to Hong Kong on February 2 this year.
She gave birth to a baby boy when she was in custody pending for the sentence.
Mr Justice Kevin Zervos, sentencing, said “I have been as lenient as possible.”
He said he had considered the hardship that Bustillo had gone through and that she would miss the chance to see her son grow up while she was in jail. He added that Bustillo could have faced up to 16 years given the quantity of the drugs.
The court heard that Bustillo worked as customer service representative for a software company in Manila and came to Hong Kong to buy clothes for the baby and because she wanted to visit a church.
Bustillo claimed a woman gave her a suitcase before she boarded the plane and she noticed there was a small bag inside. The woman told her she would come to Hong Kong the next day and contact her to get the suitcase back.
Zervos said he found Bustillo to be an intelligent person and could not understand why she did not think of the consequences when she decided to take the risk.
“I hope your faith and beliefs will carry you through while you are in custody,” the judge said.
The Correctional Service Department allows female inmates to take care of their newborn baby until it is three years old. Bustillo told the court she had decided to send her son to be with his father in the Philippines.